I’m a certified personal trainer, certified sports nutritionist and a model. I’ve been modeling for a year and I love it! It’s a really fun job. I’ve been a personal trainer for 4 years, and I got my sports nutritionist certification shortly after that. I started doing online personal training right away, which I still do. I opened my gym two and a half years ago, where I train people in person. I train all types of people with all different goals. I have focused a lot on training figure competitors, and I’m now starting to focus on endurance athletes as well. In my gym I have a lot of older folks because I live in an older community.
Sarah Brown – Fitness Model Statistics
- Name: Sarah Brown
- Height: 5’4″
- Weight: 113 lbs
- Date of Birth: 2/22/78
- Hair Color: Dark blond
- Bust: 32 C
- Waist: 23.5″
- Hips: 32″
- Location: Maine, USA
Sarah Brown – Fitness Model Interview
Can you tell us a little about yourself?
Personally, I started running seriously when I was 7 years old. I knew from my time I ran my first race that I was meant to run. I was in track until I was 15, and also ran a lot of 5k road races. I did fairly well, and brought home lots of awards. In my teen years I felt a little burned out and wanted to spend time doing teenager things, so I took some time off. Too much time. In my early 20’s I found myself way out of shape. That’s when I started working out again. I did some running, but nothing serious at first, then I started weight training.
A couple of years later I started training for my first figure competition. I used running as my cardio during cutting phases. After five figure competitions I knew I had accomplished what I had set out to do, but that my heart wasn’t in it. My heart led me back to running. I started out with a few 5ks and then trained for my first half marathon. I love distance! I was hooked. I’ve done several half marathons since, improving my time a little with each one.
I’ve had a few setbacks since I got back to serious running, including sciatica and Lyme’s disease. Currently I’m training for another half, hoping to make it my fastest ever. In the spring I’ll be running my first marathon, then in the summer my first ultra marathon (that’s 31 miles). I’ll end the summer with my first short distance triathlon. I can’t wait!
I live in a very rural area with my husband and our five cats. We grow a lot of our own food, and enjoy being outside hiking, camping and fishing.
How did you get started in the fitness modeling field?
Becoming a personal trainer and sports nutritionist seemed natural for me, since I have always been an athlete. Athletics has been such a passion for me, and people often asked me for help reaching their goals. I figured why not help people as my profession. I had so much exercise equipment of my own, and gyms are few and far between in my area. I decided to take the risk of opening my own gym. I’m so glad I did.
What is the #1 thing you like best about being into fitness?
I know I will age healthfully. I will never say that I wish I had taken better care of myself. I see so many people around me with various ailments. They are unable to get out and do so many things. I can feel confident that I’m doing my best to prevent that from happening to me.
What has been your biggest accomplishment in the fitness field?
Though running is my focus and mostly has been my focus, I think competing in figure was my biggest accomplishment. I was naturally very skinny and underweight. It took me a long time and a lot of hard work to gain enough muscle to step on stage with confidence. I had to fight against my genetics. It was so hard for me to put on weight that I sometimes felt like giving up. Running is very hard work, but endurance is in my genes. Building strength and muscle is not.
What is the best way to get started in the fitness modeling industry? Should I just contact the photographers directly or should I use an agency?
Before you apply with an agency you should have a portfolio. If you look on modeling websites you will find photographers who are looking to develop better portfolios for themselves. They are often looking for models who will model for them in exchange for prints. This is called TFP (time for prints). This is a good way to get a portfolio started. If you don’t find any photographers who are looking to do fitness shots you can always ask if they are willing to try some. I did my first few shoots as TFP. After that I started getting paid offers.
Please describe a typical day for you. What is your daily routine like?
Every day is different. An example might be to spend some time at my lap top answering emails while eating my breakfast. Then go for my run, then get myself ready for the day. I might train some clients in the afternoon, then spend some more time with email in the evening and spend some time with my husband. In the evening I may spend some time using my foam roller and having a long stretching session. Days when I have a modeling shoot it’s all different.
I don’t have that much time during the day to workout, so I really want to burn major calories in a short amount of time. What is the #1 “bang for the buck” cardio exercise I should do to burn serious calories?
There are a few options. If you want to get an overall workout, circuit training is good. This gets strength training and cardio benefits, and burns a lot of calories In circuit training you would choose several different weight training or body weight exercises. Go through and do one set of each exercise with no rest in between. After you have done one set of each, rest for about two minutes. Then repeat once or twice. It’s a challenge for sure. Boot Camp classes also burn a lot of calories and accomplish both cardio and strength. Spinning classes and running are also big calorie burners.
How much weight (pounds) should I focus on losing every week? What is a safe amount to make sure I keep it off?
I like to have people focus on one pound per week because weight that is lost slowly is much more likely to stay off long term. 2 pounds per week is also safe. I would not advise losing any more than that per week. Remember that great results do not happen over night.
What type of food or supplements should I take before and after my workouts to help me see results in gaining lean muscle and losing fat?
I don’t recommend using fat burners. Caffeine before your workout can help keep you energized. Post workout whey protein powder with dextrose is best for muscle building and recovery. Personally I like glutamine. I’ve used it for years. It aids in recovery and helps boost the immune system.
How do you deal with cravings for junk foods, sweets and salty food? I can stay on a diet for maybe a few weeks but I eventually get really bad cravings and binge on snacks and fast foods.
Chances are if your cravings are that bad, you’re not eating enough. Try sticking with a healthy diet that keeps you feeling full. You should eat just when you start feeling hungry. Don’t let yourself get to the point of feeling starved. Try to balance your meals with a carb, a protein and a small amount of fat. This will help you feel full. Once in a while it’s ok to give in to cravings. Also, find foods that feel like treats, but aren’t that bad. I eat a lot of low-calorie fudgesicles. I love chocolate, so they keep me satisfied.
I’m trying to create a healthy shopping list to stick with. What are some of the main foods I should include to maintain a lean and muscular physique?
- Carbs: oats, brown rice, fruit (high fiber ones such as berries, apples and pears are best), lots of veggies (try to choose a variety of colors), beans, sweet potatoes, whole wheat products
- Proteins: chicken, turkey, fish, cottage cheese, eggs, protein powder. I also really like ostrich meat and 96% lean ground beef.
- Fats: Dry roasted or raw nuts and seeds, natural nut butters, avocado, olive oil, fish or flax oil for a supplement.
I’m about 35 pounds overweight. I have never started an exercise program and really don’t know where to start. What tips can you give me to get started on the right track?
Pick exercise that you like and start with short sessions. There are so many way to exercise. People burn themselves out by doing exercise that they think is best but don’t really like, and also starting out with too much. Three half hour sessions a week is fine at first, then you can progress. You may consider starting with something like walking or biking. Choose something that does not seem daunting to you.
I tend to eat out most of the time and really don’t know what healthy foods to order from the menu. What tips do you recommend for eating out at restaurants to make sure my diet will not suffer?
It can be hard to make good choices with restaurant food. Don’t be afraid to ask how food is made and request it be made differently. The worst they can say is that they can’t. Ask for dressing on the side and fat-free if they have it. You can ask to not have bread brought to your table to avoid that temptation. Fill up on salad first so you won’t be as hungry when your main course arrives.
What exercises do you recommend for getting a bigger, rounder and fuller butt?
Squats, stiff leg deadlifts, leg press, and lunges. The important thing is to increase the weight you are using as often as you can while maintaining good form. Also make sure you are lifting in a low-moderate rep range, around 8-10 reps.
What is the most challenging thing you deal with about consistently staying in top shape?
Finding the time. Owning a business makes it hard and endurance workouts are time consuming. I have to plan out in advance when I can work out, since my schedule varies from day to day.
Please describe your normal diet. What do you eat in a typical day to stay in shape?
I have to eat a huge amount of food since I’m an endurance athlete. I eat up to 3000 calories a day, in 8-10 meals. I need very high carbs. Since I don’t want to lose weight (I actually have to try hard to keep it on) I don’t worry about a perfectly clean diet. I just try to eat healthy. I also drink a gallon and a half of water a day.
- Breakfast: 1.5 cup shredded wheat with skim milk, maybe fruit.
- Mid-Morning Snack: Yogurt and fruit, another bowl of cereal with milk
- Lunch: Sandwich with turkey, cheese, veggies on whole wheat bread
- Mid-Afternoon Snack: Raw food bar, whole wheat crackers, cottage cheese
- Dinner: Brown rice pasta with veggie sauce, extra lean ground beef, cheese, maybe an extra veggie. Fish oil before bed. If I’m still hungry or if I have an extra long run the next day I’ll have extra carbs before bed. I also may munch on dried fruit and crackers throughout the day.
What type of exercises do you include in your routine to stay in shape?
- Strength Training Exercises: I do very little for strength training since I’m an endurance athlete. I do circuit training for my upper body once a week, plyomertics for lower body once a week, and core twice a week.
- Cardio Exercises: Running, of course!
- Additional Training: For cross training I do a lot of hiking. Some bike riding, snowshoeing and kayaking.
What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for developing toned and defined arms?
1. Arms are hit on compound movements for larger muscle groups, so don’t overdo it with lots of isolation movements for biceps and triceps
2. Don’t be afraid of heavy weights. Increase the weight you lift as often as you can
3. Eat right! That’s how you will lose the fat covering those muscles.
4. Be sure you use proper form and a full range of motion on all exercises.
5. Be patient. A great body takes time to develop.
What are your top 5 tips for losing unwanted body fat?
1. Eat fewer total calories, but not too few. You need enough to keep your body healthy.
2. Balance your meals well with carbs, protein and fat. Have fewer carbs late in the day.
3. Strength training. Burns lots of calories and gives your metabolism a good boost.
4. Slow, steady state cardio. Your body will burn stored fat more efficiently
5. Get plenty of sleep. This is often overlooked. Sleep helps you produce the hormone that suppresses appetite, and fatigue tends to lead to poor food choices.
What are your top 5 tips for gaining lean muscle mass?
1. Increase that weight. You will not grow by using the same weight for the same reps over and over. You need to add new resistance to grow. Just make sure you use proper form.
2. Follow up your workouts with whey protein and dextrose. They are the best carb and protein choices for going straight to the muscles and starting the repair and growth process.
3. Sleep. Muscles need plenty of rest to sleep.
4. Don’t over do the cardio. Cardio is very important for your health, but too much can hinder your muscle growth.
5. Eat more calories. Muscles can’t grow without the proper fuel.
What are the top 5 tips you recommend for staying motivated on a fitness plan and truly making a healthy lifestyle change?
1. Do exercise that you like. You won’t stick to an exercise plan that you don’t enjoy. There are countless ways to exercise. The “right” way to exercise is how you enjoy it.
2. Don’t deprive yourself of tasty foods. Take time to find healthy recipes that you like and make sure to include your favorite healthy foods in your daily diet. Don’t beat yourself up for splurging occasionally.
3. Remember that life is too short too obsess over every calorie and every gram of this and that.
4. Never compare yourself with others. There is only one person on earth like you. Just be the best YOU that you can be.
5. Set goals for yourself-reasonable goals. If you’re working toward a goal you will have a focus. And a reason to celebrate when you achieve it.
What is your training routine like? (Please include a few details – training split, sets/reps, exercises, types of cardio, etc.)
- Monday: AM: Upper body strength circuit. I do a couple warm up set, then one set of about 12 reps of 8 different exercises with no rest. Then rest 2-3 minutes, repeat twice. After I’ll do a couple core exercises, then stretch. PM: 5-6 mile easy run, possibly with a little speed work at the end. Easy runs are at a comfortable pace where I can easily speak full sentences.
- Tuesday: Either tempo run or pace run. A tempo run works on improving lactate threshold. Pace runs are practicing goal race pace. Both are tough. Average 7-8 miles per run.
- Wednesday: Rest and recovery day
- Thursday: Long run. This run is to improve endurance. The length gradually increases as I close in on a race. Pace is easy. 14-15 miles lately.
- Friday: AM: Lower body plyometrics and core. Warm up, then 4-5 plyo exercises. Followed by 2 core exercises and 10 minutes of stretching. PM: easy run of 5-6 miles
- Saturday: Speed work. This is often repeats of 800 meters at 5k race pace, to improve VO2 max. 6-8 miles total with warm up and cool down
- Sunday: Easy run of 5-6 miles
What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for losing fat around the stomach and developing a toned and defined midsection?
1. Abs are made in the kitchen. How you eat is most important. A clean diet is crucial for getting great abs.
2. Ab work 2-3 times a week is adequate. Once an exercise is no longer challenging find another that is harder. There are countless ways to train your abs. Try decline crunches, hanging leg raises, planks, side planks, and bicycle crunches.
3. Do cardio, but don’t over do it. For burning fat 30-45 minutes of low to moderate intensity cardio is adequate.
4. Be realistic. Having a 6 pack requires having a very low body fat. It’s not realistic to maintain a body fat that low for most people.
5. Keep in mind that some foods may cause you to retain water and be bloated, such as excess sodium. Figure out what foods affect you this way and try to avoid them.
What are the top 5 tips (specific exercises, diet advice, etc) you recommend for toning the thighs, hips and butt?
1. Getting a “toned” lower body means building lean muscle mass and losing the fat covering it. It does not mean doing “toning exercises.”
2. Do heavy, compound movements for the lower body 1-2 times a week. Squats, deadlifts, lunges, leg press, etc.
3. Eat a clean diet with moderate calories. You need to make sure you fuel your workouts and eat plenty of quality food for recovery, but limit calories so you are able to burn fat as well.
4. Be patient. A great body takes time to develop.
5. Do some cardio, but don’t over do it. Low-moderate intensity steady state cardio for 30-45 minutes is adequate for burning fat.